Mike Bianchi: Where would UCF, FSU and Florida be without the transfer portal? | Middle School

ORLANDO, Fla. — Long live the transfer portal.

At first glance, he was derided as the great scourge of college football, but he became the great equalizer.

Think about it.

Without transfer receiver Johnny Wilson, the Florida State Seminoles likely won’t beat Louisville on Friday night to bring their record to 3-0 for the first time in seven years.

And if not for defensive end Jared Verse’s dominating performance against LSU two weeks ago, the Seminoles likely wouldn’t have beaten LSU either.

These are just two of dozens upon dozens of examples of why college football fans should regale the transfer portal instead of mess it up.

I admit it, I totally changed my position on the portal. While realizing he has his flaws — such as the negative impact he’s had on opportunities for high school recruits — he’s been a boon to college football coaches and fans.

All you have to do is look around in the state of Florida. As I mentioned, Wilson, the 6-foot-7, 235-pound transfer from Arizona State, had a monster game catching seven passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter from quarterback Tate Rodemaker for rally the Seminoles to a 35-31 win over Louisville on Friday night.

In FSU’s previous game against LSU, Verse, a transfer from Albany (an FCS program), had two sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and blocked a field goal in the Seminoles’ thrilling 24-23 win over the Tigers. Without Verse’s dominance and LSU’s three-team on the potential tying extra point in the game’s final play, teammate Shyheim Brown likely wouldn’t have been able to run free, block the PAT, and claim the victory.

As UCF prepared to take on FAU on Saturday night, the team’s cumulative stats showed you just how much of an impact the transfer portal has made. UCF’s starting quarterback (John Rhys Plumlee, Ole Miss), starting running back (Isaiah Bowser, Northwestern) and first receiver (Javon Baker, Alabama) all came from the gate.

As for the Gators, it’s highly unlikely that they upset No-then. 7 ranked Utah in the season opener without their top receiver (Ricky Pearsall, Arizona State) and running point guard Montrell Johnson (Louisiana) in the lead.

In Miami, the No. 13 Hurricanes headed into Saturday night’s showdown with the No. 24 Texas A&M with one of the best rushing offenses in the nation. Well guess what? The team’s top rusher is Henry Parrish, who entered the A&M game averaging 102 yards per game.

And it’s not just the big programs that are using the portal to their advantage; these are also smaller programs. For example, all three non-conference upsets in last weekend’s Sun Belt coup were led by transfer quarterbacks.

Marshall’s shocking 26-21 upset against Notre Dame was engineered by Henry Colombi, who started his career at Utah State before transferring to Texas Tech and then Marshall.

Georgia Southern’s Kyle Vantrease completed 37 of 56 for 409 yards in the 45-42 road win over Nebraska that led the Cornhuskers to fire head coach Scott Frost. Before moving to Southern, Vantrease started 26 games in five seasons at Buffalo.

And if you’re wondering why Appalachia State QB Chase Brice looked unfazed on the road in last weekend’s 17-14 upset. 6 Texas A&M is probably because he’s a 24-year-old veteran who played at Clemson and Duke.

When I suggested to UCF coach Gus Malzahn earlier this week that the transfer portal had become “the great equalizer” in college football, he agreed.

“I think you’re absolutely right,” Malzahn said. “I think you will see more and more parity each year as the portal continues. College football is about the quarterback more than any position in any sport. More than half of college football teams have starting quarterbacks. I think it gives the so-called lesser opponent a better chance of succeeding.

It also gives college football players around the world a chance to play the sport they love. Otherwise, why should good players unfortunately rot on the bench of their existing school when there could very well be another program where they can be happy contributors?

Why should Plumlee, who grew up dreaming of playing quarterback and signed with Ole Miss as a QB and then moved to wide receiver, have to play a position he doesn’t want to play when another school (UCF) has a place for him to play the position he likes?

Former University of Florida quarterback Kyle Trask is often praised for sticking with UF, even though it took four years to have a chance as a starter. However, if previous starter Feleipe Franks hadn’t suffered a season-ending injury in 2019, would Trask ever have had a chance? Would he ever become the full-time starter, throw more yards than any UF quarterback in a single season, and get drafted in the second round by the Tampa Bay Bucs?

How many thousands of very good athletes over the decades have never had a chance to showcase their talent because of the draconian and dictatorial transfer policies in college athletics?

Long live the transfer portal.

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